Sep 22, 2011, 11:10 PM EDT
In what the NHL calls a “stupid and ignorant” display of racism, at least one fan threw a banana at black Philadelphia Flyers winger Wayne Simmonds during a shootout attempt tonight. Simmonds still managed to score on his attempt, although the Flyers ended up losing that preseason game to the Detroit Red Wings in front of a neutral-site crowd in London, Ontario.
It’s possible that this wasn’t the only time a fan attempted to throw a banana at Simmonds during the game, either. Brian Floyd passes along a fan’s note that someone tried to hit Simmonds with one late in the third period when he scored a 3-3 goal to send the contest to overtime, but that attempt fell short.
Sam Carchidi caught up with Simmonds following the game, who confirmed that it happened but said he didn’t want to make a big deal about it. Here’s a little more from Simmonds on what must have been a strange moment.
“I don’t know if it had anything to do with the fact I’m black,” the Toronto native said. “I certainly hope not. When you’re black, you kind of expect (racist) things. You learn to deal with it.”
Simmonds acknowledged the banana rattled him, and his only thought was to get off a shot — which went in for the Flyers’ only score in the shootout.
“It shocked me and knew I had to keep going and get a shot off,” he said. “It was certainly unusual.”
Simmonds deserves credit for shaking it off in such a professional way, but the fan (or fans) should be ashamed for that revolting act. To add an extra level of sadness to an already awful situation, Simmonds is a Scarborough, Ontario native.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time hockey fans have thrown bananas at a black hockey player. Former Carolina Hurricanes goalie Kevin Weekes dealt with the racial epithet during a 2002 series against the Montreal Canadiens.
As far as exchanges between opponents, it’s impossible to know how many slurs fly around during trash talking sessions, although there was at least once incident in which the matter became public. Georges Laraque accused Sean Avery of calling him a “monkey” in 2005, a claim that Avery denied.
Naturally, hockey isn’t the only sport in which fans interact with black players in such a way. (Soccer fans have a reputation of doing so, for example.) That doesn’t make it any less disturbing, especially since it’s far from uncommon to see black players in prominent roles now. Groundbreaking players such as Willie O’Ree and Grant Fuhr have made way for an impressive wave of stars, from Jarome Iginla to Evander Kane and Dustin Byfuglien.
Obviously, such a ghastly display of racism is discouraging – it’s 2011, after all – but hopefully this will just be an ugly, isolated incident.
Update (10:15 am ET): NHL commissioner Gary Bettman released the following statement regarding the incident.
“We have millions of great fans who show tremendous respect for our
players and for the game. The obviously stupid and ignorant action by one
individual is in no way representative of our fans or the people of London,
May 30, 2015, 1:08 AM EDT
Hard to blame the goalie in this one.
May 30, 2015, 12:17 AM EDT
“I don’t know if we’re so young and dumb and don’t know any better…”
May 29, 2015, 11:31 PM EDT
Might explain what occurred in the first period.
May 29, 2015, 10:55 PM EDT
Tampa Bay awaits the winner of the Blackhawks-Ducks series.
May 29, 2015, 10:30 PM EDT
Is it enough?
May 29, 2015, 9:53 PM EDT
Game 7 goes Saturday.
May 29, 2015, 8:54 PM EDT
Something to keep an eye on.
May 29, 2015, 8:21 PM EDT
Rangers also make one change to the lineup.
May 29, 2015, 7:20 PM EDT
The winner, as you know, goes to the Stanley Cup Final.
May 29, 2015, 6:39 PM EDT
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May 29, 2015, 5:30 PM EDT
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May 29, 2015, 4:45 PM EDT
People like ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.
May 29, 2015, 3:49 PM EDT
Appeared in just 33 games this season.
May 29, 2015, 3:16 PM EDT
“I don’t feel any tingling or soreness.”
May 29, 2015, 2:18 PM EDT
NHL Central Scouting thinks slightly more of the B.C. defender.
May 29, 2015, 1:47 PM EDT
Spent the past five seasons in the KHL.
May 29, 2015, 1:34 PM EDT
That’s former NHL defenseman and current AHL Binghamton bench boss Luke Richardson.
May 29, 2015, 12:51 PM EDT
This according to his club team, Avangard Omsk.
May 29, 2015, 12:49 PM EDT
How does it compare to past promos?
May 29, 2015, 11:50 AM EDT
“The last two years, we were a different team.”
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